Indie Play

The Determination of China’s Independent Game Scene

At night, Shanghai transforms itself into a new city. Bars, restaurants, and small shops start to open in the alleyways and neon red lights begin to shine throughout China’s largest city. Its nightlife, as well as its economic growth, makes this city the best place to see how the country has changed. At the end of July each year, Shanghai also becomes the hub of the Chinese videogame scene for one week. China Joy, the largest consumer and business game show in Asia, opens its doors for people from all over the world who arrive to try to understand what’s…


Koi brings the tranquility of a Chinese lotus pond to your PS4

Chinese studio Dotoyou recently released its game Koi on the PlayStation 4, making it the first game from its native country to be released on the PlayStation 4 in the West. Koi stars a koi fish facing dangers beneath the surface of its resident lotus pond, such as predator fish and spiked barriers. By causing flowers to bloom, the titular koi can “purify” the pond, turning the predators into friends and cleaning the waters. DAQ, Dotoyou’s lead designer, told me the idea for the game originally came from the team’s love of animals and their respect for their environment. “We combined…


Nostation, a game inspired by late-night train rides across China

In China, years ago, Bubble is riding a train late at night. “In the [past] the train was slow and dirty, it [would] take a long time to arrive at the destination,” they say. Bubble is far away from home and the train is almost entirely empty. “Just me alone,” Bubble tells me while recalling the memory. “Probably at 2 a.m. I opened the window and looked out, it [was] a fantastic feeling.” Bubble can’t describe the feeling further than that, other than saying it wasn’t loneliness, and it wasn’t fear, it was something else. The experience left a deep…


8-bit artist makes new autobiographical GIF every day

This article contains flashing images. /// Speaking to Vice’s The Creator’s Project, Italy-born, Shanghai-based illustrator Ailadi says “I like the combination of PETSCII 8-bit game aesthetic with subjects of common daily life.” She’s referring to her PETSCII series, an art project based around producing one new 8-bit gif per day, fittingly named after the character set from the line of 8-bit home computers Commodore produced in the ‘70s. “I mostly draw at night, just before going to sleep,” she tells Vice. “And the subject of it represents something about the day that just passed: something I did, I saw, that…

hazy days

A videogame that humanizes China’s smog problem

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Hazy Days (PC, Mac) MIKE REN Mike Ren has been living in Shanghai, China for over a year now. “The city is great,” he says, but the air pollution, well, that isn’t so great. The smog of China is a matter that has reached global news. It even went viral in 2013 due to a photograph that could have been mistaken for a still from the 1982 movie Blade Runner. But Ren isn’t happy with this coverage in the media and has sought to humanize the issue through…


A 1,500-year-old board game has been unearthed in a Chinese tomb

When one thinks of the tombs plundered by videogame heroine Lara Croft, or even legendary adventure film archaeologist Indiana Jones, untold treasures and riches typically await them. During a 2004 excavation in China of first emperor of the Qin dynasty Qin Shi Huangdi’s self-constructed, terracotta warrior guarded, 2,300-year-old tomb, various artifacts were uncovered. Though not entirely reported until a full decade later in 2014 Chinese journal Wenwu, and translated recently into English and published in the Chinese Cultural Relics journal, the surprising find of an ancient board game was uncovered. The ancient game, having been unplayed for approximately 1,500 years,…


China is counting videogame purchases against your credit score

The Chinese government, with the assistance of national internet oligopolists Alibaba and Tencent, is in the process of introducing a new form of credit score that will factor in political compliance, the actions of one’s acquaintances, and the products one chooses to buy. Under this scheme, buying videogames is a surefire way of lowering your credit score.  That’s right: A Chinese national who purchased The Witcher 3 will have a harder time getting a loan. The credit score ostensibly exists to simplify the task of deciding who should receive money from financial institutions and at what rate. Based on a series of…


Kung fu epic The Assassin is impossibly, breathtakingly, stupidly gorgeous

We’re at Fantastic Fest this week and are bringing you impressions of our favorite films shown at the event. For all of our hot, hot takes, head over here. /// Hou Hsiao-Hsien has been working for a long time (he’s 68), but The Assassin has more verve than stuff from directors half his age. It’s an insanely vivid, pared-down wuxia fable that unsurprisingly won him Best Director at Cannes. From the first scenes, rendered a sumptuous inkblot black-and-white that makes the rest of the film’s color pop even more, this is thrilling, fresh stuff. Hou, along with DP Mark Lee Ping Bin (In…